Pennsylvania Wine Kiosks: Stupid is as stupid does
Excited!! I can’t contain my enthusiasm for the new, ultra modern wine kisoks being tested in Pennsylvania. Move over Jancis Robinson – the Pennslyvania Liquor Control Board is now not only the unreputed wine expert in the state (Pennslyvania’s retailers are already very restricted to what brands they can carry), but they have also transformed the pleasure of learning, understanding and purchasing a bottle of wine into a robotic episode akin to taking money out at your local ATM (although you don’t have to breathe on the machine or teller at the bank).
What a great way to educate the public on wine – how grapes are grown and harvested, how wine is produced, the concept of “terrior”, the history, culture, and dedication of those that produce wine – all by keeping the bottles hidden behind glass doors and providing various snippets to the potential buyer – snippets no doubt written by the distributor that is trying to push one brand over the other.
According to a recent article in the Post Gazette, the kiosks have 4 coolers with … an astounding 53 different wines (let’s see with about 7,000 wineries in the US alone with say an average (being very conservative) 3 wines each, that means the great citizens of PA are being offered about .0025% of what is available in the US, not to mention the thousands of wines produced around the world). How was this selection made? I highly doubt it was selected based on quality and diversity.
In a time when only large producers can hope to secure distribution and only 36 states allow direct shipment, here comes Darth Vader – another attempt to save money while ensuring that access to small producers is kept at bay. Vinography said it well in “How to AVOID selling wine in Pennslyvania”. This is an excellent way to hinder sales – just what the wine industry needs after the recent recession.
Now, I am not totally opposed to any automation. In a trip to Madrid I visited a wine shop where you could purchase a card and then use that card to get tastes of various wines of the region. The bottles were displayed along with a full explanation of where produced, which varietals, methods, and tasting notes. There were also employees in the store to provide additional information about the wines and producers.
I understand convenience and certainly agree with keeping alcohol out of the hands of those too young to drink or those that abuse it, but in my opinion this going in the wrong direction. Education and knowledge is key to the enjoyment of wine, and this contraption satisfies neither.
Hmmm….I highly doubt Pennslyvania will be on my priority list of places to visit – at least not unless I bring my own bottle.